Recovery can mean many things to many people. It can be quick, or it can be a process. The most common thing I’m learning that most people in any kind of recovery face is misunderstanding by others. Then the feeling of loneliness.
I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday, who is also recovering from surgery, and I realized that no matter how much I feel alone or hide away my feelings, I am not and that I need to get my frustrations off my chest. I can’t hold it in.
How did I learn that? Because my friend and I vented to each other and it felt SO GOOD! I try not to complain much in my life. I know that when I do, I am focusing on the negative and that can set my mood. That isn’t what we were doing. We were truly venting but laughing at the same time. We were full-on talking shit about the way we have been interacted with and/or treated without pointing anybody out specifically. It took all that stress we had bottled up and popped the top.
My friend put it the best way, when we are in recovery and others don’t understand what we are going through or what the process will look like or how long the process might take, she said “You know when you’ve got a really bad head cold? And it feels like you’ve got a bubble around your head that you have to think through? Everything on the outside is just barely disconnected?”
Yeah. Yeah, that is exactly how recovery is. If you were to look at me today, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I’m recovering from anything. Then when I say I can’t lift that or I can’t twist that way or I can’t sit on that surface, you might look at me like I’m insane. Like, why the fuck not?
I’ll tell you why not. Because my body is still trying to grow bone for my fusion. My muscles around the fusion are still healing. The pressure on my hip bones from that surface will put pressure on my fusion site causing discomfort and maybe pain. Twisting can rip the muscles that are healing. Lifting puts unnecessary pressure on the fusion site that is still healing.
How long will you be ‘still healing’?
I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for you.
Well, what do the doctor’s say?
It depends on the body. I have an 80% chance of the bone graft fully fusing.
Well, what did the doctor say for how soon you can start lifting again?
When lifting doesn’t cause the pressure to the fusion that can be felt immediately.
There are no concrete dates in my recovery.
Two days ago I flew a short hour-ish flight, then sat in a vehicle for a couple hours, then sat on both metal and wood benches for a few hours, then drove for another hour, and had another flight home. A year ago I would have had normal back pain and nothing to show for it. This time, I have bruising to show for it.
You might not be able to tell, but there is bruising around the incision. That had gone away. But it returns anytime I do too much or stress that area. That bruising and the need to lay down all day yesterday was worth it, I got to support family in a time of need. But even when I’m supporting family, I still have my limitations and my recovery.
My recovery is invisible to you. I’m not asking for pity. I seriously don’t want your fucking pity. I want you to understand that just because you think I’m complaining (which I’m not), it doesn’t mean that I need to you to tell me that so-and-so recovered this way, or that everything will heal and I’ll get back to normal. No, no I will not. In my situation, and every person’s situation is different, I will not get back to normal. I will always have limitations to follow so I can ensure the health of my spine and prolong another surgery.
So if you are one of those people who immediately reacts to someone who is in an invisible recovery, stop pitying them and stop telling them they will be fine. Shut up and listen. Sometimes they just have to vent. The same way you vent. It is just about different topics.